Peer Leaders

Peer Leaders

Peer Leaders are taking over Leyden High Schools; a group of “Mini Counselors” that are available to speak with any student who wants to talk to someone around their age group.

These students were selected and recommended by fellow students and teachers who saw the good in them, whether they had strong leadership skills or were helpful to other students. Peer Leaders had to go through a 3-day training program to officially become Leyden Peer Leaders. They learned communication, confidentiality, and the art of helping others.

With dedication, encouragement, and overall positive energy, Peer Leaders want to empower people. Instead of talking to an adult about mental or emotional situations, students are allowed to talk with someone their age who might even share the same problems. This is a systematic way to help students open up more. Shaina Landau, one of the coordinators for Peer Leaders at West Leyden, states, “In some ways, it is efficient for certain people. It has to be someone, a student who’s interested in getting some sort of feedback from another student. I do think that many times students feel more comfortable talking to someone else that is their age that’s a little more in tune with what might be going on with people their age…. But in terms of listening and providing a safe space, and helping to generate some feedback and problem solving together, it’s an efficient way to do those things.”

Adyson Alverez, a sophomore and Peer Leader at West Leyden, says that as a teenager herself, it is easier to talk to someone within the same age group as her. I think this is an efficient way because students prefer talking to people their age and people that are going through the same stuff. And sometimes it’s just easier to open up to someone that’s like you rather than a teacher.”

Johnny Appleseed, a student at West Leyden, wanted a change. Not wanting to talk to a counselor, he decided to give Peer Leaders a chance. “It’s different because counselors might not see the problems the way teenagers around our age. Having someone around the same age helps because they understand your problems more.” Johnny Appleseed says that he definitely recommends Peer Leaders to fellow Leyden students. 

Knowing that someone is listening to your problems is essential to improving them. Whether that is creating a safe space or assuring them that they are not alone. “A student came to me for help, because issues were going on at home and stuff that was happening to them personally,” Alvarez said.”I helped them in a way where we could create solutions and ways to distract themselves. And I just think I helped them in knowing that they had someone there for them and they weren’t alone.”

The values of Peer Leaders are positive so that they can create good energy for other students to spread. “I think Peer Leaders encourage community, being helpful, being kind, being ambassadors of goodwill, in a sense, like they’re out, pounding the pavements or so to speak, looking for places to help people and it’s not always in a session in student services one on one, I think that most of what happens is informal help outside of school or outside of the session,” Mrs.Landau states. “Encouraging just positivity; destigmatizing mental health concerns and promoting good mental health for people and promoting helping others. Getting help for yourself if you’re not feeling well; if you’re feeling depressed, anxious, down.” 

If you are a student at either of the Leyden High Schools and need someone who isn’t a teacher, make an appointment with a Peer Leader at student services. Remember there is always someone there to talk to, whether it’s a counselor, friend, or teacher; Peer Leaders are always available.


*Name changed due to confidentiality*